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Ecological restoration and the Anthropocene


Akhtar-Khavari, A and Richardson, BJ, Ecological restoration and the Anthropocene, Ecological Restoration Law: Concepts and Case Studies, Routledge, A Akhtar-Khavari and BJ Richardson (ed), London, pp. 1-26. ISBN 9781138605015 (2019) [Research Book Chapter]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2019 The Authors

DOI: doi:10.4324/9780429468315-1


Ecological recovery has never been more important yet incongruously remains a low priority in environmental law. Most policy-makers perceive the intensifying upheavals of the Anthropocene as reasons to pay ever more attention to the future so as to forestall further degradation. Climate change, species extinctions, oceans of plastic debris and other ecological tolls loom on the horizon as an ever-real dystopia. We cannot ignore the urgency to halt dissipation of the life-sustaining biosphere, yet equally we should heal past losses in order to make sustaining what remains more viable. The Anthropocene is not a recent phenomenon but derives from a long history of anthropogenic environmental change that began at least with the onset of industrialisation two centuries ago and possibly earlier with the advent of agriculture. Under the aegis of the philosophy of sustainable development, which provides environmental law’s conceptual ballast, regulators dwell on forestalling future adversity rather than addressing past follies. The legal priority is commonly to avert, mitigate or adapt to new ecological impacts rather than to repair past damage. This stance may also emotionally and culturally weaken people’s sense of environmental stewardship on the presumption that nature has the capacity to passively restore itself through processes of ecological succession, species evolution and so forth. Damaged or degraded ecosystems sometimes can recover through their own processes, as evident in how nature rebounds after fires, floods or droughts; however, some recovery may be effectively impossible, such as when invasive species have fundamentally altered ecological equilibriums or toxic pollutants become embedded in land or water.

Item Details

Item Type:Research Book Chapter
Keywords:environmental law, ecological restoration
Research Division:Law and Legal Studies
Research Group:Environmental and resources law
Research Field:Environmental law
Objective Division:Law, Politics and Community Services
Objective Group:Community services
Objective Field:Community services not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Richardson, BJ (Professor Benjamin Richardson)
ID Code:130664
Year Published:2019
Deposited By:Office of the Faculty of Law
Deposited On:2019-02-07
Last Modified:2020-12-21
Downloads:1 View Download Statistics

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